By Megan Griffiths
Volunteering with the WCIA over the past few months and this last week has been an invaluable experience as I have been able to pick up and learn many new skills. I volunteered for half a day every week for the past few months, finishing with a week-long placement after my exams. Undertaking just a half day each week may seem, to some, a short time that isn’t really worth it. I’d say the opposite because I’ve been able to pick up different skills and learn new things in a short space of time gradually over the weeks, but also, I’ve found it so refreshing to get out of the all-consuming ‘uni bubble’ for a couple of hours a week and meet and work alongside different people. [And realistically, if not volunteering, I would probably have ending up spending my Wednesday mornings at home in my pyjamas, vowing to start revising tomorrow.] During my full week placement, I’ve had more time to carry out and complete more extensive tasks.
I’ve found the whole experience rewarding because I have actually been able to undertake relevant, interesting tasks, as opposed to being resigned to photocopying and making tea. My roles have been really varied: researching heritage, writing blog posts, communications through Facebook and email and website optimisation to name a few. I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed working on the website and the different programs, such as optimising the website to make it more accessible for search engines to pick up. Before starting, I would have told you that I’m not a techy person in the slightest but I feel completely at home adding to and updating the website and basic html code now. The same goes for using social media. I’ve enjoyed looking at how social media can be used to connect with people and provide a link between the public and the WCIA. Finding the right balance of WCIA news and interesting content related to international issues relevant to the organisations ethos that I could share on the Facebook page was particularly enjoyable. It has also been interesting to go through the branding and communications guidelines as I have never had to work within a specific set of rules to enhance the look of the website and how an organisation communicates with its audience through the tone and voice that you use. Volunteering has given me an insight into how organisations really work behind the scenes, so to speak, as well as the chance to learn skills I wouldn’t have necessarily been exposed to through my degree alone.
The German Iron Lady still analyses the issue in detail. (Photographer: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons)
I can’t help but feel many people are misinformed vis-à-vis the Eurozone and the nature of bailouts, monetary policy and austerity. Germany’s Eurosceptic party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) has taken big steps towards establishing itself as a national force by winning seats in elections in Hamburg, as well as receiving 10.6% of the vote in Thuringia and 12.2% in Brandenburg on the 14th September.
For a brief time before the General Election campaign commenced, it seemed that UK defence policy was quietly making its way up the news agenda. What was generally regarded as a lower tier issue crowded out by more pressing concerns such as health, education and the economy, started to gain traction, which will tend to happen when you have Russian nuclear bombers buzzing our airspace.
Extreme irregularities only divert our attention away from the strengths of multiculturalism, which has helped us a lot over the decades
Leading figures in academia, politics and the media, including British Prime-Minister David Cameron, have accused multiculturalism of being divisive. But closer inspection shows that actually, it offers the most coherent way of reconciling unity, equality and diversity in multicultural societies.
Let shaking hands be the start of further mutual benefits ahead
Is it the end of potential growth for businesses in Asia? In recent times, we can see the decline of China’s GDP growth from a staggering 14.2% in 2007 to a mere 7.7% at the end of 2013. Not to mention rumours that after the official data for 2014, a further fall is also projected. Looking at the other Asian superpower, India, we might be wary to invest there.
The march towards gender equality begins with small steps
Advancement of women in almost any aspect of the country is often linked to pages and pages of parliamentary statutes which effectively take women’s rights more seriously or thought-provoking speeches by female celebrities at the UN headquarters. While such movements are to be applauded, much of women’s march to total gender equality is actually made possible by the people behind the scenes, such as female office clerks who come into office to earn a living and female teachers who continue to do what they love to do even if their salaries are not much to be bragged about.
Mexican Army soldiers during a cleaning at Michoacán in August 2007
Anyone with even a passing interest in Mexico will be aware of the serious violence that has been underway in various parts of the country since 2006, as powerful cartels battle each other over the spoils of lucrative drug trafficking routes into the United States. Faced with local police forces that simply cannot cope due to under resourcing, intimidation or corruption, the Mexican state has often dispatched its armed forces to such semi-war zones in an effort to hold the line and clean house. Caught in the crossfire are the civilian populations, and after almost a decade of kidnappings, mass killings and intimidation, many of the worst affected communities in Mexico have responded by forming their own self-defence units, known as fuerzas autodefensas, or what are effectively vigilantes.